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Innovation in the era of massive digital transformation

Posted by Christine Mulcahy on February 26, 2024 10:46:05 AM PST
Christine Mulcahy

How an app was born (and how that app birthed a company)

It’s an age-old question … which came first — the chicken or the egg? Well, we’re living proof that sometimes you have to move fast or you’ll get run over trying to cross the road before you can even find the answer. We’ve been working in the tech industry for two decades and have never experienced such accelerated change in such a short amount of time. If we take a moment to catch our breath, volumes could be written about how 2020’s global pandemic amplified Digital Transformation at a steroid level. But what we’re really here to talk about is how the gift of time during the pandemic gave innovators the time and space to innovate and how those innovations are emerging today … in the form of industry-disrupting apps and new companies to solve new challenges that maybe didn’t even exist a few short years ago.

Identify your intellectual property

So, there we were … sitting on our deck on a warm summer evening, enjoying a meal with some new friends who happened to be seasoned investors. They noted that we had recently won recognition from Inc. 5000 and Puget Sound Business Journal as a fast growth company and were casually curious about our trajectory and where we were headed next. Our growth trajectory was strong (we would go on to win those awards repeatedly for several consecutive years) and our reputation and experiences just continued to improve with positive reviews and referrals among clients and colleagues. So, naturally, when he asked, “so, what’s your IP?” we should have had an obvious answer.

For a marketing executive in the tech industry, this question should not have blindsided me the way it did. I stumbled around for a few minutes trying to think of an answer and ultimately came up with something completely unenlightened like … “Well, we write about other companies’ intellectual property. We’re just in marketing, taking their solutions to market, but there’s nothing really unique or patentable about an infographic. Every marketing agency creates content similar to ours.” To which he replied “Well, you must be doing something right. Why are you growing so fast?” That was easy … “our content is superior, our team is well trained, we are fast and nimble and affordable, and we never miss a deadline. We make our clients look good. Every time. People love working with us because our quality is remarkably better than our competitors.”

Don’t get me wrong … I can talk about our marketing services and deliverables for days. There is plenty to say about our integrated content marketing strategy and neuro-marketing approach. The way we’ve packaged scalable and repeatable solutions so we can meet client demands and keep our sanity. The way we work together as a team to solve complex problems and exceed client expectations. We do good work. But could we consider it IP? I just couldn’t see it …

Package it as a repeatable process

Fast forward about a month and I was on a call with a potential client. A Cloud Service Provider with a sizable partner channel that wanted to offer GTM services and content to their partners. This is quite literally exactly what we do. We’ve been doing it for years and we’re incredibly good at it. Agile. Nimble. Creative.

So then, the client pushed me and said … “what if we need to deliver to hundreds of partners each month?” Not a problem, I assured him. “How?” he asked. Simple … I described how we’ve taken two decades of industry best practices, created proven templates, a robust intake form, and repeatable internal processes to turn quality content consistently. Our creative services team is like a well-oiled machine, and our processes are straightforward and easy for partners to engage with us. Fill out a simple intake form, provide brand guidelines, and our writers (well trained in product and solution messaging) will turn that input into quality deliverables — practically overnight.

“Perfect,” he said. “Package that up and put it in our marketplace and we’ll sell it to every partner.”

{… gulp …}

Yes. Obviously. “Create a repeatable packaged solution that you can sell at scale” is something I’ve advised every client. That’s exactly how it works. But marketing is different, right? Clients don’t want cookie-cutter solutions. They want something unique. “Bespoke,” if you will. They don’t want to look like their competitors. They want a message that resonates with their target audience, that has a people-centric, emotionally compelling, resounding story. Marketing content needs to look and feel like the company and solution it’s representing. How could we possibly do that — at scale?

Automate everything

By now, I’d had two conversations in a month’s time with acquaintances asking me how we were going to turn our IP into something genius. So, I started doing some research … did you know the content marketing industry is $400B+ and growing rapidly? Back in 2020 when this idea was percolating, the world had just stopped. In the middle of the pandemic, all events had been cancelled and budgets had been reallocated to digital marketing. We were spinning up digital marketing campaigns, awareness campaigns, nurture workflows, and customer journey funnels. The demand for digital content was obvious. But the saturation in the market with low-quality, garbage content that we all scrolled past for hours on end during the depths of the lockdown was mind-numbing. Creating QUALITY content at scale would be the challenge. (And also, through my research, I found that there was NOTHING like it on the market.)

And so, I sat down with my dog on Labor Day Weekend while my family played at a remote lake cabin, and set to work … how could we create a super simple form, a highly automated process, and also include the value of a fully integrated message across multiple deliverables, while interspersing seasoned marketing consulting and proven best practices from decades of experience in the industry?

I’m not going to pretend I’m someone I’m not … I drew a picture in a notebook and then translated that into an Excel spreadsheet that was the equivalent of a mind map. But when I shared it with my team, they were so excited about it they took it and ran with it. Adding color to my line drawings. Detailing every connection point, input, output, transformations, processes, and opportunities for improvement. We brainstormed ways to expand and simplify. Ways to customize and control variables. We created characters and games and poured our hearts and souls into content maps and pivots and code. We found a dev team to help us build a prototype. And then we took the prototype to a bigger dev team to help us build a secure cloud-based SaaS app. We’d tested and tweaked and were just about ready to launch when … wait for it … Generative AI emerged. Our minds were blown. Generative AI was exactly the tool we didn’t know we needed to make the solution even better than we had imagined. We immediately started playing with it. Imagining how it could enhance our tool. Engineering prompts. Building engineered prompts into the tool to make creating content even easier. Simplifying our intake form to even fewer fields with the power of AI.

Share it with the world

I feel a little like Willy Wonka in the Chocolate Factory just waiting to share the Everlasting Gobstopper with the world. We’ve just completed Private Preview on our MVP, are implementing more changes, and preparing for launch. We’re working with industry-leading experts on coaching and accelerator programs. Building a presence in a partner’s marketplace so we have a platform from which to sell. Launch is within sight, and we are so excited to share it with you.

But in the meantime, we’ve uncovered another exciting opportunity through the process … an opportunity to help people discover and envision how their daily solutions can be packaged as scalable, repeatable IP and taken to market in smart and innovative ways they never dreamed or imagined. Because I know I didn’t …

Enter ConteSaaS-AI

While building our own app that is destined to disrupt companies like ours, we identified a need for a new kind of consultancy … a consultancy that helps people dream … that demonstrates that the sky is not the limit, and if you can imagine it, it can probably be built. And, in fact if you’re already doing it manually, it can likely be automated. And if you can automate it and package it and sell it, then just imagine what you can do with the rest of your time!

And so, we built and launched a new company … ConteSaaS-AI: Where innovation meets empowerment! ConteSaaS-AI is a woman-owned small business on a mission to revolutionize the way you work and live. It specializes in crafting leading-edge, AI-powered applications that put people at the heart of technology. Our passion lies in making your daily challenges vanish, paving the way for a more efficient and productive life.

Our commitment to human-centric design means we’re dedicated to creating software that empowers you, rather than overwhelm you. We believe that technology should work for you, not the other way around. Our solutions are tailored to enhance your work-life balance, ensuring you have the time and freedom to focus on the people, events, and activities that matter most to you.

While we’re just getting started, we would like to extend special thanks to the Women in Cloud organization, which is unlocking access for women tech founders and creating a robust network of experienced executives, tech professionals, and allies around the world to help empower innovations like ours.

Thank you for joining us on this journey. Stay tuned for more updates on our launch plans. And let us know if you have a solution you’d like to take to market!

Topics: Product Management